Data Science (SDS)
The Discipline and the Major
Data Science is an interdisciplinary field that combines the theory of data analysis with the power of today’s computer systems, and applies this core to broad disciplines and modern challenges facing the Fleet. The Naval Academy needs to graduate officers who can make decisions from data, and this major puts you on that in-demand path. The major includes a core foundation rooted in computation with topics from both mathematics and computer science, and then offers electives from a variety of academic departments. The mathematics focus includes probability, statistics, and inference. The computation focus includes computer programming, data storage, visualization, machine learning, and cloud computing.
Midshipmen participate in hands-on data-driven projects throughout the curriculum. Third class year begins with a sequence of courses that introduce the student to computer programming and statistics essentials, setting up the entire major to be filled with engaging applications to real-world data. The major assumes students have never seen computer code nor statistics. After establishing a foundation in probability, statistics, and practical computer programming skills, the major allows for several electives that will be offered from a range of departments, such as Oceanography, Electrical Engineering, and Economics. This results in a unique field of study where Data Science majors can apply their skills to individual domains of interest.
The Computer Science Department is equipped with lots of computer labs, visual displays, and access to advanced computing facilities. Midshipmen utilize these resources to apply theory learned in the classroom and to complete projects throughout the curriculum.
Upper class Data Science majors may engage in independent study, research, or participate in many summer internships. Expected summer internships will be with government agencies like the National Security Agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency, and Naval Research Labs, as well as private companies like Lockheed Martin and Rebellion Defense. Students majoring in Data Science can pursue foreign language minors, exchange programs, and study abroad programs across the world.
Data Science graduates will be competitive across all service selections, as data-driven decision-making is a critical skillset that becomes more important with each passing day. The Fleet has a big data problem, and officers who can produce insights from seemingly endless data will lead the way forward.
Considerations for those who might be interested in this major
Midshipmen considering the Data Science major should have a strong interest in logical thinking, exploration, treasure hunts (finding nuggets hidden in data!), and of course computer technology. Students will take multiple courses on computer programming, and while no experience is assumed, a basic interest in programming is required to succeed. Students who enjoy solving puzzles and working with computers will have the greatest success in the major.